The Ondo State Government has said the over 200 ‘herders’ who arrived in Ajowa-Akoko community on Sunday were not Nigerians.
The government was reacting on Thursday to a criticism from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in the state that it was encouraging the settlement of herders in the state.
The men, who were conveyed to the community in heavy duty trucks, reportedly disembarked in Ajowa-Akoko community on Sunday evening.
By Monday morning, the development had elicited reactions from the youth of the community.
Members of the community immediately chased the foreigners though some of them claimed to have paid some amount of money to stay in the community.
The town’s traditional ruler, Clement Jimoh, said the arrival of the herders was an ’embarrassment’ to the community.
He said the elders and security agencies prevailed on the youth of the community not to take the law into their hands.
Meanwhile, the PDP accused the Rotimi Akeredolu-led government of planning to “bring in herdsmen to settle in different parts of the state.”
The PDP Publicity Secretary, Zadok Akintoye, said the governor had been encouraging the influx of herders into the state.
Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Donald Ojogo, said the PDP’s allegation was aimed at creating distrust between the people and the government.
He said the influx of the ‘strangers’ to Ajowa Akoko was reported to the state government “after the community had chased the intruders away”.
“From preliminary reports at the disposal of government, these people were not Fulani of Nigerian descent but foreigners,” the commissioner said.
Mr Ojogo said at the time they were prevented from settling at Ajowa and subsequently chased to the boundary between Ondo and Kogi States, “there were no cattle with them.”
“It is to be noted however, that an indigene of Ajowa Akoko who is alleged to be responsible for the unauthorised movement of these foreigners to the town has been placed under security watch. Mr Governor has consequently, ordered his immediate arrest and interrogation without further delay,” he said.
“Also, the suspected collaborator of Araba, a Fulani butcher resident in Ajowa, is said to have been chased out of the town by restive youths.
“In another development, shanties built by suspected Fulani in an industrial layout in Akure without authorisation have been evacuated by security agencies on the orders of the State Government.
“Nonetheless, it is pertinent to state without prejudice to the hospitality of our people that, unauthorised mass movement or influx into Ondo State will not be encouraged by government. In the same vein, potential collaboration in this regard will not be tolerated.”
Mr Ojogo also said the Ondo State Government “frowned strongly at any form of self-help capable of jeopardising cordial relationship among Nigerians irrespective of religion and ethnicity.”
He added that the regional security outfit, Amotekun, which is billed for unveiling in Ibadan on January 9, “would create an atmosphere that would engender peaceful coexistence in the South-west.”